London, Apr 22 : The inability of England's footballers to convert penalties into goals has often seen major championships slip through their grasp, leaving them and their loyal fans disappointed. Now, Scottish scientists have discovered just why British footballers can't take penalties - and, they're blaming stereotypes for it.
Researchers at St Andrews and Exeter Universities, led by Prof Stephen Reicher, said that stereotypes are what is hampering England footballers, as well as their Scottish counterparts, to miss out on penalties.
"The power of stereotypes should not be underestimated," the Scotsman quoted him, as saying.
"What we think about ourselves and also what we believe others think about us determines both how we perform and what we are able to become.
"The England football team has won only one penalty shoot-out from seven in major tournaments.
"They are impeded by a history of failure. This also gives the opposition goalkeeper confidence he will make a save against an English penalty-taker."
Brian Irvine, the former Aberdeen and Scotland defender who scored the winning penalty in the 1990 Scottish Cup final against Celtic, has also lent his backing to this new theory.
"It makes sense, because it is very rare to see a small team winning on penalties. I'm not a great believer in luck, but when it comes to penalties think something like luck comes into it," he said.
"England have lost so many shoot-outs, they have read the papers and have the history, it must have an effect."
The report appears in the Scientific American Mind journal.